“A woman will always be an enigma, although many believe she is an open book. So try to read between the lines to unravel her mystery. Give her space to breath and watch her from afar.” With these three sentences, Sohaila Khamis, 21, summarises her first novel “Three Girls” that captured the attention of teenage girls across the country and even older generations.
Khamis’s novel tells the story of three different girls to which she hopes that her readership can relate. She wished to provide advice through her stories for girls who feel confused or worried and have no one to talk to.
The main issue Khamis tackles in her novel is the role of family and how parents’ methods of raising their children can influence their thoughts, beliefs, character, and how they present themselves to society.
“The novel explores three main themes; first being the mother’s role in her daughter’s life and how she can support and encourage her daughter in the challenges and hardships she may face,” Khamis said.
The second theme delves into the misguided concept of freedom and discipline that many girls are taught: “I am free as long as I don’t hurt myself or anyone else with my thoughts or behaviour. I am also responsible for the consequences of my wrong decisions; this is how I understand freedom.”
Taking a new direction in the third theme, Khamis elaborates on her worldview and shines light on contentment and happiness, which is achievable she said if one can understand that all people are equal and believe that God provides each person with equal opportunities and chances to improve their lives but in different ways. “We don’t have to wait for life to give us all we want because this is impossible,” she said.
What makes this novel stand out from other similar literary works, of which there are many, is that Three Girls shows a far wider understanding of a girl’s life, from birth to womanhood. “Although family does indeed have a significant role in forming a girl’s unique personality, the outer world is also an important instrument in forming the rest of her personality,” She said.
Khamis started writing when she was 11 years old; she endeavoured to develop her talent by writing song lyrics. After that, she decided to study writing techniques by reading books such as “Lazet Al Tagreeb Al Rewa’y” by Salah Fadl. “I submitted my first novel to the publishing house after a long struggle to find a good publisher; then, I waited for the committee to approve it.”
Initially she did not expect her novel to be such a sensation; the success boosted her self-confidence and motivated her to go further on her journey. ‘’I didn’t expect to attract the attention of such a large demographic that ranged from 16 to over 30,’’ she said.
In her opinion, people lost respect for literature and reading for a long while but nowadays things seem to be getting back on track: “Reading re-emerged as fresh and fashionable; people picked up books again to impress others and appear ‘deep’ and ‘knowledgeable’ to their friends. Fortunately, many people actually re-discovered their love for reading.”
Publishing houses hold a great deal of influence over the next topic to be discussed over coffee; these companies can handpick the subject matter that will attract readers and therefore raise awareness of pertinent issues.
‘’I have a lot of plans for the near future. I have only taken the first step but I’m planning for another novel that discusses not only women but also tackles other important issues concerning society,’’ she said.